Leslie Jones has been promoted to new cast member on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” from her previous position in the writers’ room.
You’ll recall that Jones was added to SNL’s writing staff in January (along with LaKendra Tookes), around the same time that Sasheer Zamata was added to the show’s cast after a much publicized search for a new black woman cast member (Jones and Tookes were actually amongst the many women who auditioned for the job that eventually went to Zamata, when producers held a special casting for black women actors/comedians last year).
You’ll also recall that, 5 months after she was hired, Jones found herself at the center of some controversy over an SNL “Weekend Update” sketch she appeared in, titled “No. 1 Slave Draft Pick,” which began with her congratulating actress Lupita Nyong’o for her Academy Award win, and then became something else entirely, as she went on to suggest that she’d have more luck attracting men if she were a (paraphrasing) “strong, baby-producing slave in the Old South.”
Needless to say, she faced tremendous criticism for “No. 1 Slave Draft Pick,” with many arguing that Jones could not have written the material herself, and that it was likely the work of the white writers on the show.
Jones did eventually and vehemently defend the sketch, saying, via Twitter: “Y’all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelje did that joke or jay z or Kanye put in a rap they would be called brilliant. Cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black woman who ain’t afraid to be real y’all mad. So here is my announcement black folks, you won’t stop me and Im gonna go even harder and deeper now. Cause it’s a shame that we kill each other instead of support each other. This exactly why black people are where we are now cause we too fucking sensitive and instead of make lemonade out of lemons we just suck the sour juice from the lemons. Wake up.”
No word yet on when she’ll make her full regular cast member debut, although she’s already been appearing in “Weekend Update” skits, so the transition should be seamless.